17 February 2021, Mogadishu – Over 2.6 million people in Somalia are expected to be in extreme food insecurity according to the latest joint technical assessment released by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET). The report cites poor rainfall, flooding and desert locusts among the main contributing factors and warns that the situation could worsen through mid-2021 in the absence of large-scale and sustained humanitarian assistance.
FAO and the Government of Somalia have emphasized the urgency to increase support to sustain ongoing desert locust control and surveillance efforts, and to provide rapid emergency assistance over the coming months.
“Despite relative progress, there has been a new upsurge of desert locusts that has destroyed crops. We will continue working as a combined force to combat the threat of desert locusts and mitigate the potential of a more devastating outcome,” said Said Hussein Iid, Somalia’s Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation.
The report highlights that desert locusts will continue to pose a serious risk of damage to both pasture and crops countrywide through mid-2021. In addition, available forecasts indicate an increased likelihood of below-average rainfall during the 2021 Gu (April-June) season across most of the country, which would further exacerbate food and nutrition insecurity for millions of people.
“With the Government’s support, our teams and partners have maintained operations in control and surveillance, while delivering crucial humanitarian assistance and livelihood support during extremely challenging circumstances. Expanding the emergency response is crucial and underway, with a focus on interventions aimed at reducing food consumption gaps, saving lives, and protecting and preserving livelihoods,” said Etienne Peterschmitt, FAO Representative in Somalia.
From July to December 2020, assistance reached more than 1.8 million people per month on average in parts of Somalia. This large-scale humanitarian and government support helped to minimize the magnitude of the crisis and funding is needed urgently to boost efforts to reduce the new food security threats the country is currently facing.
Food insecurity expected to deteriorate
Approximately 1.6 million people face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes in the presence of planned humanitarian assistance during the first quarter of 2021. An additional 2.5 million people are Stressed (IPC Phase 2), bringing the total number of people experiencing acute food insecurity to 4.1 million. This also includes approximately 840 000 children under the age of five who are likely to be acutely malnourished, including nearly 143 000 who are likely to be severely malnourished.
According to FSNAU-FEWS NET, from April to June 2021, food insecurity is expected to deteriorate, largely among poor rural, urban and displaced populations, due to the multitude of threats and crises. Humanitarian assistance must be sustained through mid-2021 to prevent Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes for nearly 2.7 million people.
“Somalia’s long-standing crises are compounded now by the ‘triple threat’ of the COVID-19 pandemic, desert locust infestations and climatic shocks,” said the UN Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General Adam Abdelmoula, who also serves as the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia. “We must continue to work with all humanitarian partners to ensure the most vulnerable Somalis are able to withstand the challenges and build resilience against future shocks. I urge all partners to work together across the humanitarian, development and peacebuilding paths to address the root causes of these crises and build lasting solutions that leave no one behind,” he added.